A programming language is a computer language programmers use to develop software programs, scripts, or other sets of instructions for computers to execute.
Although many languages share similarities, each has its own syntax. Once a programmer learns the languages rules, syntax, and structure, they write the source code in a text editor or IDE. Then, the programmer often compiles the code into machine language that can be understood by the computer. Scripting languages, which do not require a compiler, use an interpreter to execute the script.
Types of programming languages
Each of the different programming languages mentioned in the next section can be broken into one or more of the following types (paradigms) of languages.
- High-level (most common) / low-level
- Declarative / imperative / procedural
- General-purpose / domain-specific
- Object-oriented / concurrent
- Command / Compiled / Script language
- Answer set
There are other paradigms that can classify a programming language. We've tried to list only the most common as a starting point.
A language can also be broken into one of five generation languages.
List of computer programming languages
Today, there are hundreds of different programming languages. The following section contains an index of the different programming and scripting languages currently listed on our site. Clicking any of the following languages displays an explanation and examples of that language.
Languages marked with an asterisk (*) in the list above are not technically a programming language. They are markup, style sheet, and database management languages that are included in the list for those who may consider them as a programming language.
Those new to computer programming may find the list above overwhelming. Figuring out where to start depends on the type of computer programming you want to do. The next section lists different fields of programming, and the languages to consider for each.
There are several programming languages listed above that may not be in the following categories. The reason for this is that we have elected to list only popular choices to avoid overwhelming the reader.
Application and program development
Application and program development involves programs you work with on a daily basis. For example, the Internet browser you are using to view this web page is considered a program. If you are interested in developing a program, consider the following languages:
Artificial intelligence development
Artificial intelligence or related fields involve creating the character interactions in computer games, portions of programs that make decisions, chatbots, and more. If you're interested in developing an AI, consider the following languages:
Database developers create and maintain databases. If you're interested in creating or maintaining a database, consider any of the following languages:
Game development involves creating computer games or other entertainment software. If you're interested in developing a game, consider the following languages:
Computer drivers or other hardware development
Computer drivers and programming hardware interface support are a necessity for hardware functionality. If you're interested in developing drivers or software interfaces for hardware devices, consider the following languages:
Internet and web page development
Internet and web page development are the essence of the Internet. Without developers, the Internet would not exist. If you're interested in creating web pages, Internet applications, or other Internet-related tasks, consider the following languages:
Although it is not likely to become a career, knowing how to create and develop scripts can increase productivity for you or your company, saving you countless hours. If you're interested in developing scripts, consider the following languages:
How many programming languages are there?
As computers have evolved, many different computer programming languages created for various types of development. Although we do have several dozen languages listed on our site, there are hundreds that we don't have listed. To get an idea of the different programming languages, you can visit The Hello World Collection, which gives a demo of how to write "Hello World" in over 591 different programming languages.
What are the top programming languages?
There are many ways this question could be answered. However, we feel the best method is to rely on the data from GitHub, a service that hosts over 96 million software projects. In the chart below, GitHub shows the top 10 programming languages from 2014 to 2018.
If you're learning to program, we recommend learning the language that will suit your needs or that others in your industry rather than what everyone else uses.
Hello World, Language, OOPL, Programming, Programming terms, Pseudocode